The American Goldfinch is common to abundant throughout much of temperate North America, forming flocks in winter that are among the more familiar bird visitors at feeding stations.
DISTRIBUTION: The few observations during the TBBA field work in 1987-1992 of summering American Goldfinches were confined to the northern and northwestern sectors of the state.
SEASONAL OCCURRENCE: Atlasers had to be particularly cautious in their assessments of the status of American Goldfinchs in May as the species is one of the latest to nest of all temperate zone passerines (Middleton 1993). In eastern North America few (C. t. tristis) are found nesting before late June or early July (Tyler 1968a), while on the Pacific Coast nesting (C. t. salicamans) may occur as early as the last week in April (Tyler 1968b). The only confirmed nesting documented by the TBBA was in Hemphill August 12 (fledgling; latilong 35100, H3). Probables were reported for Randall (latilong 35101, A7), Grayson (latilong 33096, F7), Fannin (latilong 33095, C8), and Red River (latilong 33094, G8) counties,and Possibles for Gray (latilong 35100, B7) and Hemphill (35100, H2) counties.
BREEDING HABITAT: Flood plains and weedy fields, as well as open deciduous and riparian woodlands, orchards and gardens are favored by nesting American Goldfinches (Middleton 1993). Such was the case of the confirmed nesting in Hemphill where huge cottonwood trees and other riparian vegetation line the roadside that traverses the Canadian River valley, and where the woodlands are interspersed with open fields of grasses, weeds, and composite plants.
STATUS: With few exceptions, Oberholser’s (1974) summering range of the American Goldfinch compliments that of the TBBA’s findings. Oberholser shows past “breeding” in Young and Lamar counties, the latest in 1915. Pulich (1988) mentions an observation of a “stub-tailed” young being fed in Grayson County, October 6, 1971, evidence of a possible late nesting. Oberholser also shows summer sightings farther downstate in Anderson, Montgomery, and Brewster counties.
Post-TBBA, a confirmed nesting (a fledgling accompanied by an adult) was discovered in Delta County, July 29, 1994, along with a single adult in Van Zandt County, July 18 and several at 2 sites in Hemphill County, June 5 (Lasley and Sexton 1994). Other goldfinches were found in 1995 in Hemphill County, June 7 and Fannin County, June 18 and July 4 (Lasley and Sexton 1995). Prior to the TBBA, the Hemphill sites had been found occupied almost yearly, with strong evidence of nesting (KS). Unexpected so far south, a singing adult male was observed in Aransas County, July 1 and another in Travis County, July 6, 1990 (Lasley and Sexton 1990).
Lasley, G. W., and C. Sexton. 1994. Texas. Aud. Field Notes 48: 960-964.
Lasley, G. W., and C. Sexton. 1995. Texas. Aud. Field Notes 49: 948-952.
Middleton, A. L. A. 1993. American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis). In The birds of North
America, No. 80 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. Univ.of Texas Press. Austin.
Pulich. W. M. 1988. The birds of north central Texas. Texas A&M Univ. Press, College Station.
Tyler, W. M. 1965a. Spinus tristis tristis (Linnaeus), Eastern American Goldfinch. In Life histories of North American cardinals, grosbeaks, buntings, towhees, finches, sparrows, and allies pp. 447-466 (O. L. Austin, Jr., ed.). U.S. NatI. Mus. Bull. 237(1).
Tyler, W. M. 1968b. Spinus tristis salicamans Grinnell, Willow Goldfinch. In Life histories of North American cardinals, grosbeaks, buntings, towhees, finches, sparrows, and allies, pp. 469-471 (O. L. Austin, Jr., ed.). U.S. NatI. Mus. Bull. 237(1).